Yesterday broke me, I have to admit. I got home and I wanted a fire and there was only one match left and the wood was wet and I wanted to crochet and I’ve lost my hook and I just felt like there was not a single thing I could easily pull together to make sense out of the day.
Yet, the fire still started with only one match. And it burned as long as I needed it to. I don’t know what to make of the hook situation, though. And I was counting on it to keep me busy at the Southern Festival of Books.
I was thinking, as I always do when I wonder just what the fuck kind of country it is where a man can espouse the position that some people aren’t good enough for a family and other people have long, “rational” discussions about it–as if there should be some common ground we can find or point of understanding we can reach about wanting to codify into law such a ridiculous position.
I know I all the time talk about how I feel like there are two Americas. Not John Edwards’s two Americas, but the America of Walt Whitman, which is grand and sad and silly and people are broken and lonely and beautiful and they ramble on, too long, and they are lost and found again; Whitman’s America is full of artists and freaks and outsiders and people who are at the heart of America and still considered un-American. And then there’s the America that would and tries to destroy the other America, as often as it can, as thoroughly as it can.
And we, at any minute, may be citizens of one America or the other.
That is my deepest belief about America, that we are two countries, together.
Yesterday, when I told a friend that I was feeling kind of defeated by politics, she said she was, too, and was coming to feel like the only way to really change this country is through the arts.
Stop fighting with and on the terms of the one America and fight on our own terms.
I find that idea very appealing. And I felt comforted by it.
I woke up, though, with the end of this poem running through my head.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage? Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?